Game Observations – Sun. 8/13 – Pirates 7-0

The St. Louis Cardinals continued their bad run of baseball, falling for the third straight game to the team with the worst record in the National League, the Pittsburgh Pirates, this time by a 7-0 score Sunday afternoon. Paul Maholm, 4-10 coming in, tamed the Cards offense. The Reds' win means the 62-55 Cards' lead over them in the NL Central Division is down to a scant 1-1/2 games.

Cardinals starter Jason Marquis allowed back-to-back home runs in the second inning, his 27th and 28th of the season, worst in the National League. He allowed just one other hit in six innings, but that wasn't good enough. Adam Wainwright had his worst outing of the season, allowing four runs in just 1/3 of an inning to let the game get away in the seventh, though his defense didn't help him out. Brad Thompson also allowed one run more for good measure.

A cohesive offense again was nowhere to be found. While they had ten hits, the Cardinals batters didn't create many serious threats and couldn't buy a clutch hit. In fact, every starter except Marquis had at least one hit, yet not one run scored. So Taguchi doubled and singled and Ron Belliard had two singles.

One year ago today
On August 13, 2005, Chris Carpenter won his team season-high ninth straight decision and added to his league-high win total in a 5-2 Cardinals win. Carpenter pitched his sixth complete game of the season and 19th of his career for his 17th win of 2005. He allowed just a two-run home run as part of eight hits while walking none and fanning eight. Albert Pujols had a two-run home run and Mike Mahoney contributed a run-scoring single.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (12-10, 5.82) vs. left-hander Paul Maholm (4-10, 4.81).

The line-up
Eckstein, Taguchi (CF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Belliard, Duncan, Bennett and Marquis.
In: So Taguchi, Scott Rolen, Gary Bennett.
Out: Jim Edmonds, Scott Spiezio, Yadier Molina.
Jim Edmonds continues to be platooned, sitting against lefties. Yet, Chris Duncan was given a start. Scott Rolen returned from his back spasms.

On to the game…

Cards first – Two many outs at second
David Eckstein walked to start the game. In a bad omen, he was picked off and tagged out easily at second. Pujols singled to right. He was also out trying to take second base.

Bucs first – Good start
Three batters and three outs.

Cards second – In order
Three up and down.

Bucs second – B2B jacks
Back-to-back home runs by Jason Bay and Joe Randa to the same spot in left center made a statement. I wish it was a positive one. Three straight outs, including a strikeout of Humberto Cota, followed. Bucs 2-0.

Cards third – Two on at least
Bennett singled off the third baseman's glove with one out, but Marquis not only failed to bunt him over, he had to run the bases instead. Eckstein singled to left, but So didn't deliver.

Bucs third – Relatively quiet
One baserunner caused no harm as Duffy walked with one out. He stole second as Wilson fanned, but was stranded there.

Cards fourth – Great chance wasted
Rolen doubled with one out. Encarnacion singled off the third baseman. As Belliard grounded out, the runners moved into scoring position. Duncan walked to load the bases, but Bennett grounded out.

Bucs fourth – No more pain
Jose Bautista walked with two down, but that was all.

Cards fifth – Need a pair
So Taguchi singled with two out, but had no help.

Bucs fifth – Marquis holding on
A strikeout started a 1-2-3 inning.

Cards sixth – Bottom 1/3 can't do it
Rolen walked leading off. Belliard singled with one down. But, Duncan and Bennett each flied out.

Bucs sixth – RISP kept off board
Belliard made a nice leaping catch on a line drive for the first out. Freddy Sanchez doubled with one out and moved up on a strikeout that almost got away. It was a passed ball charged to Bennett. But, Randa was retired to end it on a nice catch by Duncan. The Bucs still have only three hits.

Cards seventh – Another good chance missed
So doubled with two down, ending Maholm's afternoon. Off Salomon Torres, with first base open, Pujols walked after missing a game-tying home run just outside the left field four pole. Then, Rolen popped out to first base.

Bucs seventh – Roof caves in
Adam Wainwright was asked to keep his team close. That backfired. Bautista was hit on the hand on an up and in pitch. Jose Castillo singled. With two on and no out, Humberto Cota sacrificed them up when Rolen didn't charge on the bunt. Jeromy Burnitz walked to load the bases. Duncan the chawless trotted out and patted Wainwright on the waist as Brad Thompson warmed. Chris Duffy singled to right to score two. Wilson singled to reload the bases. Freddy Sanchez shot a double between Taguchi and Encarnacion as neither looked like they wanted to catch it. If Edmonds was in the game, the out would have been recorded. Plain and simple. Out went Adam and in came Brad to get the last two outs on a 5-4-3. Too late. This team looks completely lifeless. Bucs 6-0.

Cards eighth – Can't deliver
Belliard singled off Matt Capps with one out as the ball spun past the first baseman. Duncan singled and Belliard took third on an error by the shortstop Jack Wilson. Bennett and Miles struck out to blow another chance, which may be their last of this series.

Bucs eighth – HBP leads to the extra point
Bautista was hit by a Thompson pitch. Being the second time Bautista was hit this game, this time he took exception. The umpires had to separate him and Gary Bennett. Pinch-hitter Jose Hernandez walked with one down. Duffy singled to right to score Bautista. Bucs 7-0.

Cards ninth – Without a whimper
Damaso Marte pitched. He walked Spiezio leading off, who was pinch-run for by Jim Edmonds. With one out, Pujols walked, but Rolen grounded into a game-ending double play.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Mon., Aug. 14: Off day
Tue., Aug. 15 vs. Reds: vs. Reds: Chris Carpenter (10-6, 3.27) vs. Aaron Harang (12-7, 3.66) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed., Aug. 16 vs. Reds: Anthony Reyes (4-5, 4.26) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-8, 3.54) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Thu., Aug. 17 vs. Reds: Jeff Suppan (9-7, 5.00) vs. Kyle Lohse (2-5, 6.39) 1:10 p.m. FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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